Symonds the spin doctor

Nottinghamshire 460 Gloucestershire 190 and 267 Notts won by inns & 3 runs
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The Independent Online
THE brilliantly gifted but maddeningly mercurial Andrew Symonds recorded his first Championship century of the season yesterday to keep Gloucestershire's hopes briefly alive in a match in which they were always second best to Nottinghamshire.

Symonds has passed 30 in all bar three of his innings this year but has failed to progress much further. It is this inconsistency which so infuriates his admirers. But Symonds demonstrated the full range of his flawed genius in his innings here, treating all the bowling with a disdain bordering on arrogance, yet always giving the bowlers hope that he would try something suicidally wreckless.

Before lunch he lurched alarmingly between self-induced crises, as Chris Cairns posted a blindingly obvious leg-side trap. Symonds had scored 20 when he duly hoisted a hook to the square-leg boundary, only for Kevin Evans to spill the chance. Two overs and two beautiful fours off Richard Bates later, Symonds fell for the same old trick - this time a top-edged pull landed at square leg just out of the reach of three closing fielders.

Interspersed with all this was a blistering attack on Nottinghamshire's spinners. Andy Afford was punched through and lofted over long-off in successive balls, while anything short was swished dismissively over mid- wicket. But in the last over before lunch the demons surfaced again and an over-ambitious drive was nicked but dropped by wicket-keeper Lyndsay Walker.

Whatever was said at the lunch interval had the desired effect, and Symonds swept all before him. The spinners still bore the brunt of the assault, with any lapse in line or length brutally punished on either side of the wicket. Symonds' century came off only 111 balls and he added 17 more before top-edging a cut to gully off Evans.

As in the first innings, the rest of the Gloucestershire batting surrendered tamely. Cairns did the early damage when Nick Trainor fended a wide one to the keeper, and Tony Wright was undone by a yorker as he shuffled forward.

Tim Hancock battled gamely, although he was also dropped off Cairns at second slip, and played some fine drives before miscuing one to cover. Mark Alleyne lasted only one ball, but Richard Williams was spiritedly defiant in a short but profitable innings.

Evans returned to mop up the stragglers. He bowled an admirable line and length and the batsmen dutifully provided the errors for him to finish with five for 30 and Nottinghamshire to record their first win in 13 Championship attempts.